Governor Jerry Brown’s Administration has proposed revisions to the standing marijuana laws in California
and many law and policy makers, as well as police chiefs, are not in agreement.
The backlash was caused by the decision Gov. Brown made to combine the already set in place medical marijuana rules and regulations, passed by the California legislature in 2015, with those rules set by
Proposition 64, an initiative supported and affirmed by California voters that makes cannabis legal
for recreational distribution, sale, and use.
Many feel that, if these laws are combined, the pot industry itself would benefit, rather than the public. The revised edition of this law would include eliminate the need for those who cultivate, distribute and dispense marijuana to use a third-party seller for distribution, which effectively removes the need to work within
the state laws to own and operate a cannabis business.
The governor’s administration feels that trying to establish two different sets of rules and regulations for medical and recreational marijuana could end up being confusing and, in some cases, a vast waste of resources.
Among some members of California state legislation, it is a belief that this new proposal could augment the risk of the formation of business monopolies who could then take over and create a negatively and unevenly growing market and economy.
Prior to this new proposal, the 2015 legislation requires individual licenses for every aspect of the industry; cultivation, manufacturing, retail and distribution, and businesses were allowed a license in only two of those categories.
Another already standing law was that a distributor cannot also retail any marijuana products.
With this new seventy-nine-page addendum, or proposal as it is more widely known, businesses would be allowed to hold multiple licenses, including a distribution license, making it easy for one company to hold a substantial seat in the cannabis market in California.
The thought process behind this is that it will allow for a growth market by enabling creative freedom and innovation, which will inevitably strengthen all aspects of observance of state laws.
Some are worried that this could create an imbalance in the industry, allowing for the possibility of a conglomerate controlled market, leading to the disestablishment of a vertical growth mindset altogether.
But current market watchdogs feel that the current policy of having to use an independent distributor who is separate from the cultivation and manufacturing portion of the business could end up increasing the market cost of marijuana for consumers and, ultimately, forcing them to seek their products elsewhere like the black market.
Black market goods could then see a spike in popularity, thereby decreasing revenue that could be generated for the state.
Supporters in the industry believe that this new proposal will help ensure that small business will have a chance at generating success, as it will provide a more direct line to the consumer.
Cultivators will now be able to have a hand in every aspect of the cannabis industry, from production to distribution. There will be no need for the “middle man”, so to speak, if all can be handled by a single company.
Another aspect of this discussion is the distribution of permits which is set to begin in January of 2018. As the 2015 law states, every medical marijuana cultivation and retail business must get a permit from the state only after that business obtained a permit from its city or county.
The idea behind this is that local ordinances could not be violated because the cities or counties could always revoke their permit at any time, nullifying the state license.
The new proposal eliminates permitting at a city or county level if the locality does not ban commercial cannabis and at the same time does not have application process, relinquishing ultimate control at a more local level and putting all of the power in the state. Legislators feel that, with the large number of cities and counties in California, this option would simply allow more cannabis business to operate in compliance.
Although still allowed to submit a local permit to the state if available, an applicant will not be required to send in an environmental report to the state, outlining the potential future impact on the city or county.
Conversely, if a city or county suddenly outlaws cannabis cultivation or retail in their municipality, the state will not issue a license.
Without regulations, certain areas in the state could see a potential lock out, which would force patients and consumers to seek goods elsewhere, reducing or eliminating any form of legal commerce.
As we can see, the proposal is still very much of a rough draft and needs to be revised and thought through before it can be passed in the state Legislature. Many lawmakers feel that this is a starting point and could prove to be very beneficial to the state of California, as well as the emerging cannabis industry.
Of course, this proposal must be voted on and passed by more than two-thirds of the state Legislature. It must also be revised so that it remains in-line with the initial intent of Proposition 64, as that initiative was approved by fifty-seven percent of those voters in the the state of California.
It remains to be seen what will happen with this proposal. For now, those in the cannabis industry will press on, guided by the current regulations already in place, and hope for a smooth transition and easy licensing procedure starting in January of 2018.